The Society was organized in 1968 by a small group of residents who began collecting books, photographs, documents, furniture, and other materials relating to the history of Waukegan. They occupied a modest space in the Genesee Building, and later, three rooms at 428 Franklin Street.
In 1973, the Waukegan Park District agreed to lease the Haines house to the Society (in Bowen Park), and the building continues to be maintained by both organizations today. The building is now the Waukegan History Museum and was restored to the late 1870s, when Mayor Haines took up permanent residence. Period furnishings, including many pieces from important Waukegan families, have transformed the house back to the high-Victorian opulence of the late 19th century. Additional rooms are used as exhibit spaces, showcasing items from the Society’s ever growing collection of Waukegan and Lake County memorabilia.
The Society’s research collections are housed in the John L. Raymond Research Library, named for the man who first appreciated the importance of collecting the photographic and archival history of Waukegan.
The Board of Directors meets every month, and the regular general meetings of the Society are usually held at Lilac Cottage or the Lynn Schornick Theatre (both located at Bowen Park).
The Waukegan Historical Society:
- Collects and displays items representative of the Little Fort pioneers and their Waukegan descendants.
- Operates the Waukegan History Museum.
- Maintains and staffs the John L. Raymond Research Library.
- Conducts an annual Tour of Homes of local residences and structures.
- Provides educational materials to local schools.
- Holds the Society’s business meetings several times a year with educational programs.
As always, we continue to look for volunteers to help with tasks in the museum and the research library. Some projects can even be done at home. Or consider becoming a member to support the activities of the Society and receive our quarterly newsletter.
Life Membersjoin our long-term mission of collecting, preserving and making accessible to the public the rich and fascinating history of Waukegan and Lake County. Your name will be added to the plaque of life members that proudly hangs in the Waukegan History Museum.